When it comes to taking notes during an interview, journalists are more likely to use a pen and a steno notebook over a smartphone, tablet or laptop. It’s faster. But trying to write down everything word-for-word is extremely difficult. That’s why Frank Bond, an on-air journalist and producer at the Newseum in Washington, DC, has invested in a Livescribe Smartpen. (He’ll share his thoughts on the device, below as part of the ‘In The Field’ section).
The pen can record what’s being said and keep track of the notes. For example, if you’re trying to write a quote and only get the first few words, no worries. You can take the pen, tap it on the sentence, and the audio from that part of the interview will be played back. Not to mention the pen comes with it’s own apps, so you can even have it email your notes to your computer (because it records your pen strokes).
$70 – $230
The Smartpens are a bit bulkier than normal pens, but still write like a normal pen. And if you run out of ink, you can buy a new ink cartridge. The pens come with various hard drive sizes: 2GB (which stores 200 hours of audio), 4 GB (stores 400 hours of audio), and 8 GB (stories 800 hours of audio). The most affordable pens those that are refurbished. They start at $70. Even though the most expensive pen is $230, you can get it on sale for $180.
It’s best to use Livescribe with it’s compatible paper. The paper has microdots to synch your notes with the recording. You can buy notebooks, flip books (similar to steno notepads), and even sticky notes (similar to Post-it Notes). The notebooks are a bit pricey, but you can also print your own paper for free.
There are a variety of apps for the Livescribe Smartpen. The apps most helpful to journalists are the ones that allow you to download the audio to your computer, or sync your notes with an iPad.
Here’s a video from Livescribe about how the Smartpen works:
“While everyone drools over their tablets and smartphones, there is a product on the market that every student and journalist should have. Manufactured by the company Livescribe, this pen is a digital voice recorder that organizes your notes as you write. What’s more, this ingenious tool enables you to go back through your notes and playback what was being said while you were writing.
Don’t understand your own handwriting? Can’t follow your own thread? Didn’t connect the dots accurately? No worries. Just tap the pen on the asterisk you wrote to segment the lecture or interview, and the pen will playback what was being said as you wrote.
The key to the Smartpen is the camera under the point, which tracks where the pen is on the page as the voice is being recorded. You activate RECORD – PLAY – PAUSE by tapping the icon on the specially marked note pads. But you can mark up ANY SURFACE with controls that will guide your SmartPen as you use it.
If that were all this handy gadget did, it would be enough. But, you can also e-mail your notes and use the apps on your laptop or tablet to share your notes. So this is the perfect tool for news gathering, college lectures, and corporate teamwork.
Visit the website, and you’ll become a believer. Use one, and you’ll be recommending it to your friends and colleagues, which is a good thing because Livescribe offers rewards and discounts for bringing in business! For just over $100 or just UNDER $200 you can stop taxing your memory, and become the most organized you’ve ever been about taking and retaining information!” – Frank Bond, on-air journalist and producer at the Newseum